Tuesday, 9 March 2021

I'm Cycling the Canal du Bourgogne...

…and I'm picking up from where I left you in my previous post - you can remind yourself by clicking Here 
The bike is under the trees in the parking area and I'm now inside the château here in Ancy-le-Franc.  Built in the 16th century, the house we see today replaced an old fort, which stood here for over 400 years.  I have no doubt that this fabulous renaissance building was a significant improvement on the previous dwelling place.
The château was commissioned by Antoine de Clermont (Antoine III) whose mother was the countess of nearby Tonnerre.  As the word tonnere means thunder or thunderbolt, I have to wonder if the town was christened such because of a thunderous battle that might have been fought in order to gain control of the land.
The original plans for the house were drawn up by the Italian architect Sebastiano Serlio, one of the team of specialists who created Fontainebleau.  Unfortunately, Serlio died in Paris in 1544 and the work at Ancy was taken forward by French architect Pierre Lescot (1515-1578) who remained faithful to the plans of his predecessor.  As you approach the house, you can instantly see that the lines and symmetry scream renaissance style at you.
Antoine de Clermont died in 1578.  It was Antoine's grandson, Charles-Henri de Clermont who managed the completion of the interior of the château.  Having done so, the house and grounds then became a place for a number of notable people to visit, including Louis XIV in 1674.
In 1683 the estate was sold to the Le Tellier family, François-Michel Le Tellier was then Secretary of State for War for Louis XIV.  One has to wonder what happened in those nine intervening years.  In 1684, Le Tellier acquired the whole county of Tonnerre, which included a second house and estate at Maulnes - more of that in a future post.  It was during Le Tellier's ownership that the grounds were laid out by André Le Nôtre, head landscape architect to Louis XIV.  Yep, that name crops up again, doesn't it?
Following the revolution (1789-1790), the Clermont family managed to regain possession of the property and the estate.  The house was restored and everything settled until the mid- 19th century.  The estate then passed through various hands until it went into private ownership.  Since then, there has been further restoration work and it is now an historic monument that is available to all.
Decorative detail from a cabinet
The house that you can see today has some stunning murals and trompe l'oeil work inside. The interior has been dressed in keeping with the style of the building and to walk through those rooms for an afternoon is to walk in the footsteps of kings and courtiers.  Although, with an exterior temperature of 35°C on the afternoon I visited, I'm so glad I didn't have to wear one of those dresses!
My history drug taken, and I'm back on the bike again.  I retrace my route along the canal.  Monsieur Pêcheur and the heron are still sat on the bank fishing and dining.  I free wheel behind them…

You can read more about my trip along the canal Here and I will be back with further travels on April 13th.  Watch this space...

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